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Falsely Accused Father Cleared and Compensated
April 23, 2014 permalink
When British social worker Suzi Smith falsely accused single father Jonathan Coupland of sexually abusing his daughter Jessica, he was arrested and publicly humiliated. Later Smith retracted the allegation. She has been fired and Mr Coupland has been awarded £86,000 damages from Cafcass.
Custody battle father's £86,000 payout after
social worker falsely accused him of abusing his daughter
A father was arrested and banned from seeing his daughter after a social worker falsely accused him of abusing the little girl.
Jonathan Coupland, 53, was handcuffed in front of his neighbours, thrown in a cell and interrogated for ten hours after Suzi Smith claimed she saw him sexually assaulting his daughter Jessica, then six.
The social worker is said to have made the allegation in a fit of pique after the single father criticised the way she was handling a custody battle with his former partner.
Mrs Smith, 53, later retracted her claims and Mr Coupland has been paid £86,000 damages by her employer, the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass).
The public body - accountable to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and funded by his department - has sacked Mrs Smith and apologised to Mr Coupland.
But furious about his ordeal, the father-of-one has taken the matter to court, pushing for Mrs Smith to be prosecuted for misconduct in a public office.
He is also taking action against the police for false arrest and false imprisonment.
Last night, he told the Daily Mail: ‘I was manhandled by three policemen and dragged out of my house in handcuffs.
‘It was humiliating. My neighbours saw and parents at Jessica’s school turned on me.
‘It was a completely false story of lies but my daughter could have been fostered and I could now be in a paedophile wing of a major prison because of this social worker. I won’t rest until she faces justice for what she has done.’
Former painter and decorator Mr Coupland has raised his eight-year-old daughter alone. Jessica’s Thai mother, Kajchi Jiraekkaphob is an illegal immigrant.
He was granted custody shortly after Jessica was born in December 2005 but Miss Jiraekkaphob fought him through the courts for seven and a half years.
Cafcass worker Mrs Smith became involved in January 2012, when she visited the family at home in Spalding, Lincolnshire.
Mr Coupland claims her initial report, read out during a custody hearing the following week, was glowing. But four months later, she reported Mr Coupland to the police, saying she saw him touch his daughter inappropriately.
Mr Coupland believes she did this because he had accused her of acting unprofessionally by contacting one of his character witnesses during the custody proceedings – and he had asked for her to be removed from the case.
The father was arrested at his home a week later, on suspicion of sexual assault. He was handcuffed and dragged into a police car in front of neighbours, put into cells and interrogated for around ten hours.
His daughter was visited at her school by social services and interviewed by police.
Officers told Mr Coupland that Jessica would be put into temporary care but he begged them to allow her to stay with her grandmother. He was bailed but told he could not contact his daughter at his mother’s home.
A day later, police said they were taking no further action against him as Mrs Smith had retracted her allegation. He reported the social worker to police and she was interviewed, but the CPS decided not to take action against her.
Mr Coupland, who has finally seen off custody challenges from his former partner, plans to contest the decision not to prosecute Mrs Smith at the High Court.
She was sacked by Cafcass, the largest employer of social workers in England, for gross misconduct, but only left work six months after making the false allegation.
Mr Coupland said: ‘In the meantime she was still working in the courts, affecting children’s lives... It is disturbing that this person is paid to look after the welfare of children. She has done the opposite and got away with it.’
He said he is still viewed with suspicion by other parents at his daughter’s school and that many will not allow Jessica to visit their children at home.
‘Friends have turned on me... I’m still being treated like I’m a paedophile,’ he added.
‘I thought the law in this country was “innocent until proven guilty” but I feel like I have been branded guilty until I prove myself innocent. It will be that way until Suzi Smith is taken to court and proven to be a liar.’
Mrs Smith confirmed yesterday that she was dismissed by Cafcass six months after making her allegation against Mr Coupland.
She added: ‘Jon Coupland is a very complicated individual who I believe feels a great injustice has been done to him.’
A Cafcass spokesman said of the incident: ‘We regret that on this occasion our practice procedures were not followed.’
An internal investigation by Lincolnshire Police found its officers were justified in arresting Mr Coupland.
Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Storey said police were ‘duty bound to investigate’ Mrs Smith’s allegation, adding: ‘It later transpired that the allegation was not as originally reported to us. The male was released without charge.’
Source: Daily Mail